By Karl Olson — The big winners of Super Bowl 50 were not just the Denver Broncos, they were San Francisco cops who racked up over $6.3 million in overtime while The City hosted “Super Bowl City.” And the big losers were not just the Carolina Panthers, they were San Francisco taxpayers, whose elected representatives threw a big party for the billionaire owners of the National Football League.
Those are the revelations from public records produced by the San Francisco Controller’s Office in response to Public Records Act requests made by former State Senator and Judge Quentin Kopp, the First Amendment Coalition and the San Francisco Taxpayers Association.
The records show that in a two-week period ending February 12 – the period in which “Super Bowl City” unfolded around The Embarcadero – San Francisco cops racked up over $6.3 million in overtime. Comparable figures in 2015 were less than $1 million in each two-week pay period.
The records also show that the San Francisco Police Department didn’t even budget for the Super Bowl-related costs. Neither did the Municipal Transportation Agency, whose personnel rang up over $2.7 million in overtime during the two-week “Super Bowl City” period, far more than normal. And the City wasn’t reimbursed by the NFL for its Super Bowl-related costs, even though the city of Santa Clara – which hosted the game but not Super Bowl City – did get reimbursed.
Not only did the City not get any reimbursement for Super Bowl 50 costs, the Fire and Police departments, along with the Emergency Management Department, signed letters of assurance to not seek reimbursement from the NFL for providing additional public safety services related to the Super Bowl. Only two City departments – the Recreation and Park Department and the Fire Department – are to be reimbursed by the Super Bowl Host Committee for providing City services. Those reimbursements, according to a January report prepared for the Board of Supervisors, totalled only $104,257 out of estimated general fund costs to the City of nearly $4.9 million. And to make matters worse, the estimated costs to the City were far less than what the actual overtime costs ended up being.
The Board of Supervisors’ Budget and Legislative Analyst issued a January 15, 2016 report which was sharply critical of the Super Bowl arrangements. The report noted that the city of Santa Clara had an agreement with the Super Bowl Host Committee which provided for reimbursement to Santa Clara. The reimbursement from the Host Committee to Santa Clara was expected to be $3.6 million to cover additional public safety and government services costs. San Francisco, however, negotiated no such deal.
The Budget Analyst’s report observed that there was no written agreement, other than the original bid, between The City and the Super Bowl Host Committee or the NFL on the responsibilities of each party for Super Bowl 50 events in San Francisco. The Budget Analyst noted that in 2013 the NFL reported $9.2 billion in total revenue, which is larger than the City’s fiscal year 2015-16 budget of $8.9 billion. In other words, San Francisco taxpayers subsidized the billionaire owners of the NFL. And this happened even though the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee reportedly raised $50 million to pay for Super Bowl 50 events.
The Budget Analyst’s report also notes that even though most city departments didn’t budget for Super Bowl 50 events, they had built-in surpluses which hadn’t been reported to the Board of Supervisors. “The fact that City departments have now been able to identify General Fund surpluses in their FY 2015-16 budgets to pay for Super Bowl 50 events documents that the City departments’ budgets have surpluses that were not accurately reported to the Board of Supervisors during its FY 2015-16 budget review.This fact represents a non disclosure to the Board of Supervisors of significant expenditures on Super Bowl 50 events and represents a disservice to the Board of Supervisors in the Board’s review of the City’s annual budget,” the Budget Analyst commented.
Records released by the Controller after the Super Bowl also show that the Police Department did a poor job in estimating Super Bowl-related overtime. Police estimated $1.5 million in expenditures for services to Super Bowl 50 public events. But the actual overtime costs for the SFPD in the two-week pay period ending February 12 – which included “Super Bowl City” events from January 30 to February 7 – were $6,339,251, compared to $966,167 in a comparable two-week period in 2015. This shows that the Super Bowl 50-related police overtime was probably over $5 million, or more than three times what had been estimated.
Karl Olson is a partner in the San Francisco law firm Ram Olson Cereghino Kopcznski. He also serves on FAC’s Board of Directors.